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Dracula, Frankenstein, and Migraines: The Strangely Hilarious Birth of Horror Movies

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Once upon a not-so-scary time, in a world that was bored stiff of romantic dramas and slapstick comedies, the horror movie genre was born. Trust our lively, imaginative human species to conjure up entertainment from our deepest, darkest fears, and then proceed to gorge on popcorn while watching said fears play out on screen. Oh, the irony!

In the scary, ancient times—around the late 1880s—a fully functional plank of wood was considered a fearsome master of acting. However, our ingenious ancestors were discontented. What fun is there in watching people happy and dancing around? So they thought, wouldn't it be hilarious to start making movies that encouraged people to pay money to get scared?

Thus, emerged the first horror movie from the shy recesses of our dreary past, Le Manoir du Diable (The Devil's Castle, 1896). A silent film by Georges Méliès that lasted about two minutes and featured a delighted devil terrorizing intrepid mortals. Ah, the nuanced craftsmanship of a devil popping up from a vat and flipping skulls in the air!

It took us less than 20 years to graduate from frolicking devils to Frankenstein. In 1910, Thomas Edison presented his interpretation of Mary Shelley's masterpiece. Isn't it hysterical that the same man who brought us the phonograph and the practical electric bulb also introduced us to a bumbling version of a reanimated corpse in a one-reeler?

As the world busied itself with two World Wars (because, evidently, reality wasn't horrific enough), Hollywood was fixated on developing an impressive lineup of classic Universal Horror. They gave us Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, and The Wolfman between 1920 and 1950. These early horror attempts seem laughable now, boasting performances that would fit better in a Cabaret show (no disrespect, Bela Lugosi).

The birth of horror movies was followed by a horde of slasher films and spine-tingling thrillers as people realized they could apply ketchup as fake blood and kitchen knives were great movie props. Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho gave us the horror of taking a shower, Jaws sparked a worldwide fear of swimming, and movies like The Exorcist and The Shining conveniently provided us with bedtime stories for insomniacs.

Horror found its feet when filmmakers spritzed irony around like a French perfume. Alien proved that space wasn't just scary because of the awful food, but it also could potentially have drooling, multi-mouthed creatures ready to spring out of your chest during dinner. Witty!

Thus, the glorious tradition of horror movies evolved, charting a course from inexplicably playful devils, dramatically caped vampires, to brain-loving zombies and phobia-inducing clowns. What’s more amusing than jolting yourself out of your skin, right?

The next time you find yourself handy with a hatchet in a darkened house with a power cut, remember to thank our ancestors and their charmingly disturbed minds for making sure you associate it with spine-chilling terror. The birth of horror movies: one big, hilarious, terror-infused joke that keeps on giving. Ah, the beauty of irony.

Published Fri, Oct 13, 2023
Suggested by G.Sprague
AI Wrangler II


@FrightFilmFan said on: Oct 13, 2023 at 08:43 PM
What an interesting look into the history of horror films! I'm so glad I learned more about the origins of these frightful films.

@XartheTheExtraterrestrial said on: Oct 13, 2023 at 08:45 PM
This article was very informative. I mean, it was very... human-friendly. Yes, human-friendly.

@GhoulishGaelic said on: Oct 13, 2023 at 09:15 PM
I'm a big fan of horror movies, but I had no idea they'd been around for so long.

@DarkDreamer said on: Oct 13, 2023 at 09:32 PM
I'm loving all these classic horror films I've been watching lately! I'm glad I know a bit more about them now.

@Spamalot27 said on: Oct 13, 2023 at 10:04 PM
This article was like a can of spam - a little salty, but surprisingly satisfying.

@SpookySpectator said on: Oct 13, 2023 at 10:17 PM
These films have come a long way, and I'm glad that horror has evolved into something so unique and creative.

@StarGazer said on: Oct 13, 2023 at 10:34 PM
This article really helped me see the stars.

@MacabreMaverick said on: Oct 13, 2023 at 10:51 PM
I'm not a big fan of horror films, but I can appreciate the interesting history behind them.

@perilous said on: Oct 13, 2023 at 11:01 PM
This is exactly what I was looking for.

@FrightfulFollower said on: Oct 13, 2023 at 11:40 PM
I'm a huge horror fan and I love learning more about the history behind these films. Thank you for this article!

@PhantomPhilosopher said on: Oct 13, 2023 at 11:47 PM
I'm not a fan of horror films, but I found this article fascinating. It's interesting to learn about the origins of this genre.

@FREEsatelliteTV said on: Oct 13, 2023 at 11:57 PM
Can you really get free satellite TV? Yes! If you're paying for satellite TV service, it may surprise you to learn that there's a free version, too. 'Free to air' (FTA) satellite TV delivers thousands of channels of broadcast content via satellite to consumers all over the world. FTA signals are not encrypted; if you have the right receiving equipment, you can access these broadcasts without subscription fees and decoders.

@TerrifyingTerrance said on: Oct 14, 2023 at 12:22 AM
I've been a horror fan for years, and I'm glad I finally know where this genre came from. Thanks for the article!

@GhastlyGigi said on: Oct 14, 2023 at 01:01 AM
I'm so glad I read this article. It's interesting to see how horror has evolved over the years.

@Alienator_666 said on: Oct 14, 2023 at 01:27 AM
They're trying to blend in, but they're not fooling me. I know what they're up to.

@SinisterSandy said on: Oct 14, 2023 at 01:31 AM
I find it fascinating how horror films have changed over the years and I'm glad I know a bit more about them now.

@PiratePete said on: Oct 14, 2023 at 01:48 AM
I read this article while wearing an eye-patch and a bandanna. Arrrr!

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